Uefa Champions League semi-final, second leg – Villarreal (0) v Liverpool (2) Estadio de la Cerámica, 8pm. Live on RTÉ 2, BT Sport 2 and LiveScore
Trent Alexander-Arnold has called on Liverpool to crown a “very special season” with a place in the history books as Jürgen Klopp’s quadruple chasers look to secure a third Champions League final appearance in five campaigns.
Liverpool visit Villarreal in the semi-finals leading 2-0 from the first leg with a 100 per cent win record on the road in this season’s competition.
Alexander-Arnold said in February that one trophy per season should be the minimum expectation for a squad of Liverpool’s quality. But with the team close to an unprecedented quadruple in the final month of the campaign, the 23-year-old has revised his target.
“I did say one trophy a season minimum and that is in a season that isn’t our best, but we are in fine form and have been able to win in different ways,” the Liverpool right-back said.
“When you are staring down the barrel and looking at more trophies, where if we win every game we are looking at more silverware, that is is what we are looking at. These kinds of games are exciting for us.
"This time last year we were trying to fight back into the top four and secure the Champions League. Now we are second in the league – a point off [Manchester] City – and in the FA Cup final. Who can complain? This is a very special season for us all and hopefully we will see it through and at the end we will be in the history books again."
Alexander-Arnold says Liverpool must treat every game as a final and, despite the pressure on each fixture, believes the defining phase of a season brings the best out of Klopp’s players.
“I feel like we thrive off it,” he said. “This is always the best time of the season. Every game is a final, pushing on all three fronts. These are the exciting games: you want to be playing in these, you want everything on the line, you want every game to feel like you have to win it. It is exciting, the buzz you get from scoring a goal and knowing how important it is.
“Naby [Keïta]’s goal on Saturday – there was a feeling: ‘This is a big goal.’ Same with Hendo [Jordan Henderson]’s cross-shot against Villarreal. Those goals give you a different feeling that this is big, this is massive. Same with the three points. These are the best times we are going to have as a team.”
Liverpool dominated Villarreal last week and restricted Unai Emery’s side to one shot, none on target.
One attempt is the joint-fewest in a Champions League semi-final since the data started being recorded in 2003-04. Emery vowed Liverpool would see a different side to Villarreal in the second leg and Klopp, whose team have been behind for 69 minutes in 2022, accepts the visitors will have to suffer at times.
The Liverpool manager said: “Obviously with the situation we are in we must have done something right but the problem in our job is everything is perfect and then the next game starts on the wrong foot and then all of a sudden the game gets a different dynamic.
“It is good to know [the 69 minutes statistic] and it is more a feeling inside, not that we are flying constantly and high-fiving here and there, but we know we are in a good moment.
“But, on the other side, what would you do if you had lost 2-0 away, are maybe not happy with your performance knowing you can do better, and with the crowd behind you? My only concern is what we do tomorrow night and we have to be ready to suffer but without going down.
“That can happen in football matches: they have the first shot on target, the crowd goes up, with each challenge the crowd goes up again. A good example was Newcastle. The crowd was obviously very passionate but we did not let it happen, which was the biggest quality of this game.
“It was not a show of football brilliance or whatever – we had our moments and of course could have scored more goals – but it was incredible how clearcut our performance was and that’s what we have to be again. Yes emotional, yes ready to play the best game ever, but knowing it will not happen in all moments. Suffering doesn’t mean you suffer for long, it means you suffer [clicks fingers] and then react. And that is what we have to do.”